Video: Jennifer L. Armentrout on The Dark Elements

What made #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout want to write about gargoyles? Does she have a preference between Zayne and Roth? Harlequin TEEN Senior Editor Margo Lipshultz sat down with Jennifer at this year’s Book Expo American conference to ask her these questions and more about her Harlequin TEEN paranormal series, The Dark Elements. Watch the video below to find out what Jennifer had to say, plus what readers can look forward to in book 2, Stone Cold Touch!

About the Book – White Hot Kiss (The Dark Elements #1)

One kiss could be the last

Seventeen-year-old Layla just wants to be normal. But with a kiss that kills anything with a soul, she’s anything but normal. Half demon, half gargoyle, Layla has abilities no one else possesses.

Raised among the Wardens—a race of gargoyles tasked with hunting demons and keeping humanity safe—Layla tries to fit in, but that means hiding her own dark side from those she loves the most. Especially Zayne, the swoon-worthy, incredibly gorgeous and completely off-limits Warden she’s crushed on since forever.

Then she meets Roth—a tattooed, sinfully hot demon who claims to know all her secrets. Layla knows she should stay away, but she’s not sure she wants to—especially when that whole no-kissing thing isn’t an issue, considering Roth has no soul.

But when Layla discovers she’s the reason for the violent demon uprising, trusting Roth could not only ruin her chances with Zayne…it could brand her a traitor to her family. Worse yet, it could become a one-way ticket to the end of the world.

About the Book – Stone Cold Touch (The Dark Elements #2)

Every touch has its price

Layla Shaw is trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life—no easy task for a seventeen-year-old who’s pretty sure things can’t get worse. Her impossibly gorgeous best friend, Zayne, is forever off-limits thanks to the mysterious powers of her soul-stealing kiss. The Warden clan that has always protected her is suddenly keeping dangerous secrets. And she can barely think about Roth, the wickedly hot demon prince who understood her in ways no one else could.

But sometimes rock bottom is only the beginning. Because suddenly Layla’s powers begin to evolve, and she’s offered a tantalizing taste of what has always been forbidden. Then, when she least expects it, Roth returns, bringing news that could change her world forever. She’s finally getting what she always wanted, but with hell literally breaking loose and the body count adding up, the price may be higher than Layla is willing to pay….

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Do Undercover Military Shapeshifters Exist?

by Linda O. Johnston, author of Loyal Wolf and the Alpha Force series (Harlequin Nocturne)

Do shapeshifters exist in our military?  Unlikely.  But can you imagine what a team like that could really accomplish?

That’s one reason I’m glad I created Alpha Force for my Harlequin Nocturne books.

Alpha Force is a highly covert military unit of shapeshifters.  In my shapeshifting world, most shifters can only change involuntarily during a full moon.  But those in Alpha Force get to drink a very special elixir that allows them to shift at will, and lets them keep their human awareness even under a full-moon shift, which normal shifters don’t.

Most Alpha Force shifters change into wolves, but there are also other kinds like a cougar, a lynx and a hawk.  They appeared a while back in Nocturne Bites, but you never know–maybe other kinds of shifters will appear again.

My shifters are pretty good at remaining covert.  They each have a non-shifting aide.  Plus, they all have cover animals that resemble them while they’re shifted, in case they’re seen by regular humans who need to be convinced that they must have been mistaken:   No, it had to have been a real canine you saw, not a shapeshifter.  See?  Here’s the real dog, and here’s the real person, in human form, whom you mistakenly thought was shifting.  After all, there’s no such thing as shapeshifters.

Hah!

So far there have been five full-length Alpha Force stories, and the sixth, Loyal Wolf, will appear next month.  There are more to come, too.

So think about it.  How would it feel to know there are wild wolves out there who can unobtrusively observe an enemy camp and let the military know what they’re doing, not simply by recording it on camera but by shifting back to human form and describing it and the dangers involved in bringing that enemy down.  And maybe even attacking… in wolf form.

Too bad it’s only fiction.

Or is it?

About the Book

An alpha male meets his match…

Feisty, fearless deputy sheriff Kathlene Baylor is not the submissive type. When she detects suspicious behavior on the outskirts of her Montana town, she’s first to investigate. And when her own department refuses to take the anarchist threat seriously, she calls in the military. Little does she know the team assigned to her is not your average task force.

Shapeshifter Jock Larabey is part of the top secret Alpha Force dispatched to the scene. He’s also the sexiest man Kathlene has ever laid eyes on. And when she catches him shifting, she finds herself more aroused than scared. Jock feels the same way, and can’t control it for much longer. As the danger escalates, so does their desire….

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Watch the Trailer for Drowned by Nichola Reilly

Imagine a world where dry land shrinks with every high tide. Imagine a girl — weak, deformed, shunned by society — trying to survive. And imagine that everything she knows is about the change… Check on the trailer for Drowned by Nichola Reilly, the start of a new Young Adult post-apocalyptic fantasy series on sale now from Harlequin TEEN.

About the Book

Coe is one of the few remaining teenagers on the island of Tides. Deformed and weak, she is constantly reminded that in a world where dry land dwindles at every high tide, she is not welcome. The only bright spot in her harsh and difficult life is the strong, capable Tiam—but love has long ago been forgotten by her society. The only priority is survival.

Until the day their King falls ill, leaving no male heir to take his place. Unrest grows, and for reasons Coe cannot comprehend, she is invited into the privileged circle of royal aides. She soon learns that the dying royal is keeping a secret that will change their world forever.

Is there an escape from the horrific nightmare that their island home has become? Coe must race to find the answers and save the people she cares about, before their world and everything they know is lost to the waters.

“A resourceful and smart heroine and a society literally on the edge of survival. Take a deep breath, once you start reading you won’t be able to stop!” — Maria V. Snyder, author of Poison Study

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Valkyries, Dragons, and Demons, Oh My!

by Sharon Ashwood, author of Valkyrie’s Conquest 

Hot and cold makes a lot of steam, and that was exactly what I wanted for my tale of a sword maiden. Imagine an urban fantasy landscape, complete with marauding demons. Imagining an ice queen of an immortal reaping the souls of the dead, blind to love until a smoking hot dragon shifter awakens her heart.

I didn’t have to look far for inspiration for VALKYRIE’S CONQUEST. I was driving home with my radio tuned to an opera—which has nothing to do with my story except that it got me thinking about Norse myth. I’d read and reread those stories as a child, loving the tales of Odin, Loki, and Thor. The old gods were immortal and powerful but still subject to trickery and the Fates. As a consequence, they were always in some kind of trouble.

And, of course, there were the stories of the sword maidens, the beautiful Valkyries who reaped the souls of fallen warriors. Right there was the kernel of my story, because in the old myths, the youngest Valkyrie was trapped in a ring of fire until a mighty warrior kissed her awake from a magical slumber. The original kick-ass, sword-toting heroine, she’d been punished by her father, Odin, for disobedience—and for falling in love.

Like any good author, I plundered the story elements I wanted, added others, and came up with my own tale. The flames needed a personality, and so I gave my Valkyrie a dragon to love. And they needed a fight to win, and so I sent in demons—not to mention Odin and the Fates. It takes a dragon’s fiery heart and a Valkyrie’s sword to earn their happy ending, and sacrifices must be made.

The best folk tales are all about courage and faith and learning to love. That’s what I remember from the old myths, and those are the parts I didn’t change at all. Good stories are timeless, and even if I did send my sword maiden into coffee shops and gave her high heels, she has the same true, brave soul of the original. And as for Bron the dragon, with his brutal honesty and huge heart, well, he knows how to melt an ice maiden.

Fire + ice = steam. Enough said.

About Valkyrie’s Conquest:

conquestCan a fire-breathing shape-shifter melt a Norse battle maiden’s heart?

As a Valkyrie, Tyra was created for one purpose: to reap souls for Odin’s army. After centuries of walking among mortal warriors, she finally discovers what it is to want a man during a chance encounter with a dragon in human form.

Bron has no part in the war between the demons and the gods’ chosen people—nor does he want one. Finally free from the oppressive rule of the dragon queen, he desires nothing more than his independence. But, when Tyra is betrayed, he finds he has no choice but to take a side in the struggle between good and evil.

Once he joins the battle, Bron is subject to the Fates, whom Tyra serves. Will she defy the will of the gods to spare the dragon she loves?

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Writing the Unromance

by Emmie Mears, author of The Masked Songbird (Part of the Harlequin E Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy Box Set Volume 2)

masked songbirdThere’s a song by Catherine MacLellan that makes a very good point: “Love never finds you when you want it to; it waits till you’ve stopped waiting.”

When I was younger, I got frustrated by stories that broke people up to get one of the former couple members together with someone else. As I got older and passed through a few relationships, coming out the other side, those stories stopped bothering me as much. When you’re single, sometimes a relationship — any relationship — can seem like the Holy Hand Grenade against life’s trials.

The problem is, not all relationships are good, and they’re certainly not all created equal. Another problem? They change. Sometimes that change is for the better, but when it’s not, it can create some really sticky situations.

As an author, I love sticky situations.

When The Masked Songbird opens, Gwen Maule seems to have the building blocks of a decent life stacked into some semblance of normalcy. Steady job. Roof over her head. Boyfriend. Mates to dream of having a pint with. But some building blocks just don’t fit together.

Gwen’s boyfriend Angus is one of those blocks. A crumbly one at that.

Writing this book was fun for many reasons, and not the least of which because I got to explore what happens when you’ve stopped waiting. I think many of us have experienced that kind of relationship. It starts out good — great, even. There’s passion and connection, eagerness and joy. Our glasses get dunked in rose-coloured paint that blinds us to red flags because they blend in with the pinkish hue of the world we see in front of us.

As time goes on, the rose paint drips off the glasses. Slowly the sun and the rain wear it away until you start to see the person more clearly. If you’re lucky, what you see isn’t so very different than what they look like with a healthy blush. But we all know that’s not always the case. Red flags appear slowly, and when we look behind us, we see they’ve been there all along.

That was what I wanted to show with Gwen and Angus, and while it may sound depressing, it allows for something better to take its place.

And it helps when you’ve got superpowers to let off some steam.

About the book:

 Mildly hapless Edinburgh accountant Gwenllian Maule is surviving. She’s got a boyfriend, a rescued pet bird and a flatmate to share rent. Gwen’s biggest challenges: stretching her last twenty quid until payday and not antagonizing her terrifying boss.

Then Gwen mistakenly drinks a mysterious beverage that gives her heightened senses, accelerated healing powers and astonishing strength. All of which come in handy the night she rescues her activist neighbour from a beat-down by political thugs.

Now Gwen must figure out what else the serum has done to her body, who else is interested and how her boss is involved. Finally—and most mysteriously—she must uncover how this whole debacle is connected to the looming referendum on Scottish independence.

Gwen’s hunt for answers will test her superpowers and endanger her family, her friends—even her country.

The Masked Songbird is currently available in the Harlequin E Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy Box Set Volume 2 and will also be available individually on Sept. 1.

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Writing From Your Gut

by Sierra Woods, author of The Resurrectionist (Harlequin Nocturne)

We’ve all been encouraged to write the book of your heart. I’m suggesting you write the book of your gut. Every time I wrote the book of my heart it was…sweet, but no editor wanted to buy it.

Why wasn’t my book of the heart being accepted? `Cause it was a piece of crap!

For me, the idea of writing the book of my heart was great. No one would be offended by what I had to say in the book, everyone would love it, we’d all get along and everyone will be happy reading my little middle-of-the-road-sitting-on-the-fence books and we’d all sing kumbaya around the campfire.

Well, that didn’t happen.

Every manuscript I wrote was rejected. Our business is sometimes a brutal one. My ego was bruised, but I wasn’t ready to quit. So I changed tactics and researched an area I have expertise in (nursing) and found an editor who could work with my manuscript and turn it into something she could sell. Though I had nine books published that way, it wasn’t the book of my heart, and it didn’t inspire me to write great stories.

So what did?

When I found myself standing in front of my TV yelling at the reporter who was reporting about a woman who had been missing and then found dead a few days later. The trail led right to a family member who had been stealing her money for drugs.

That’s just not fair! It’s not right! That woman deserves to come back from the dead and kick the ass of the person who killed her.

I paused, midyell.

Well, now. Wasn’t that interesting? I’d inadvertently found something I cared deeply about and wanted to put into my books: justice.

Justice strikes a very deep, emotional and visceral tone within me. Truth. Fairness. Doing the right thing. These are all very important to me. So I decided to write the book of my gut, using the idea that made me yell at the TV. That woman deserved some universal justice. I couldn’t give it to her in reality, but I could in my fiction.

That’s when the first book in The Resurrectionist series was created. I wrote 80,000 words in 30 days. It needed work, but the framework flew out my fingertips like no other story I’d written. This was obviously the right story for me. I created a kick-ass heroine who had had her own trials but who was creating a new life for herself after she’d been given no choice.

If you’re having trouble discovering the great books within you, dig deep and find out what moves you. Write down the things that are important to you. What makes you stand up and yell at the TV? That’s what you should write about. That is the book of your gut.

What gets your visceral value system in an uproar and makes you yell at your TV?

About The Resurrectionist:

theresurrectionistEven the toughest resurrectionist needs protection sometimes…

And make no mistake: Dani is tough…so tough even the grave couldn’t keep her down. Ever since mysterious beings brought her back from her tragic murder, she’s been using her newfound powers to restore justice to the world of humans. It’s hard, dangerous work, and sometimes a little backup doesn’t hurt—especially when it comes from a hunky cop like Sam Lopez.

There’s only one catch: Dani’s past has taught her that she can’t trust another man. Besides, Sam has demons of his own to battle. They’ll just have to ignore the heat that’s building between them. Until a great evil begins to rise, and then Dani and Sam need to get closer than they’ve ever been.

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Half Fairy. Half Human. All Vampire.

by Jenna Kernan, author of The Vampire’s Wolf

When a female vampire shows up on his doorstep, a captain in the U.S. Marines—who is also a shifter—has to decide whether to kill her or become THE VAMPIRE’S WOLF.

In my July release, Brianna Vittori has been warned that vampires are coming for her and the only thing that can save her is a shifter. Unfortunately, that is also the only thing that can kill her. She doesn’t know why her grandmother never told her that “half fairy” was a euphemism for “female vampire.” Since she doesn’t drink blood, it never occurred to her that she could be like the hideous creatures that pursue her. But now she is learning that her powers are even more terrible and more deadly than theirs.

My hero, Travis MacConnelly, went to war as a human and came back a werewolf. Most of his team was killed and now he’s got guilt issues. One thing he knows for certain is that vampires are the enemy. So he’s less than pleased when a female vampire asks for refuge.

Travis is torn. He should kill her. But, instead, he actually believes her crazy story. He is the one man immune to her terrible powers but still finds himself drawn by her need for protection and the primal spark that ignites between them.

Brianna was born of a full-blood fairy, called a Leanan Sidhe. This deadly member of the fae is very interesting because she acts as a muse to human males. Any she chooses to inspire will live a life of brilliance and die young. Some say she draws away the life force. Some say she makes the life force burn brighter. The result, unfortunately, is the same.

So, which would you prefer—a long life of obscurity or a short one of brilliance?

There is an excerpt and a book trailer on my website, www.jennakernan.com.

Look for THE VAMPIRE’S WOLF in July and the second book in this series, THE SHIFTER’S CHOICE, in December.

About The Vampire’s Wolf:

thevampireswolfAs a werewolf and a marine, he’s duty-bound to protect his enemy

Brianna Vittori is running from vampires. After receiving a mysterious warning, Bri has no choice but to seek refuge with an enemy she never thought she’d run to: werewolves. They’re the only ones who can save her…if they don’t kill her first.

As a werewolf, marine captain Travis MacConnelly should be immune to the deadly attraction of female vampires. But Bri ignites his most primal desires. When Mac realizes that his beautiful prisoner doesn’t even know what she is, it’s up to him to provide her with answers as well as protection. As the bond between them grows, so does the danger they’re in….

 

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Read an Excerpt from Shaman Rises by C.E. Murphy

Shaman Rises, the final book in C.E. Murphy‘s Walker Papers series, is on sale now. In this epic conclusion, Joanne Walker has two choices: Defeat the enemy…or lose her soul trying. So how will it all end for Joanne? You’ll have to read the book to find out! Get started right now with an excerpt below, and pick up your copy of Shaman Rises wherever books are sold.

About the Book

Joanne Walker has two choices:

Defeat the enemy…or lose her soul trying

For over a year, Joanne has been fighting the Master—the world’s most abiding evil entity. She’s sacrificed family, friendships, even watched potential futures fade away…and now the Master is bringing the final battle to Joanne’s beloved Seattle.

Lives will be lost as the repercussions of all Joanne’s final transformation into her full Shamanic abilities come to her doorstep. Before the end, she’ll mourn, rejoice—and surrender everything for the hope of the world’s survival. She’ll be a warrior and a healer. Because she is finally a Shaman Rising.

Excerpt:

Friday, March 31, 11:29 p.m.

Annie Marie Muldoon was supposed to be dead.

She had been dead the whole fifteen months I’d known her husband, and she’d been dead the three years previous to that, too. That had been pretty much literally the first thing I’d learned about Gary Muldoon: his wife had died of emphysema on their forty-eighth wedding anniversary, so no, he didn’t have a cigarette for me to bum. He’d told me a lot about her in the past year and some: how she’d been a nurse, how she had been the breadwinner in their home for much of their marriage, how they’d traveled the world and how she had been a bright and gentle spirit. Everything he’d said had made me wish I could have met her.

Nothing he’d said had prepared me for the possibility I might. Not even the shamanic magic I’d finally mastered led me to believe it was possible. I did not, as a rule, see ghosts or talk to dead people.

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What Would Your Superpower Be?

by Misty Simon, author of Wicked Ink

When starting this series of books, I had actually intended for there to only be one, Wicked Ink. I wrote the story of a man who struggled with who he was and who he could become. But as I got into the story, it was apparent that there was far more to explore than just one man. What about the woman who tattooed him in the first place? The one who marked him to be the monster he originated as? And what about the man who had sworn to help him redeem himself?

And so Jackson and Lissa got their own story. I love second chances. I especially love second chances when you never really got to have the first. Paranormal is an incredible genre to tell those types of stories because there is so much richness in the back stories of people who are fighting the good fight in a world that is designed to be easier for the bad guy.

The Ink world is created around the concept that tattoos can enhance a person’s supernatural talents. But what if you had super powers? The comic book world loves a good villain and so do I. It’s easy to go to the dark side – all that power, all that ability to do whatever you want, however you want. But staying on the side of good takes a ton of dedication and willpower, an innate goodness that strives for the light.

Jackson has done things and seen things that make him want the light but not always reside there. He’s a soldier and a protector, but how far will he go to protect those he loves? And who precisely falls in that category?

I loved exploring those concepts in my new book available from Harlequin in July, Protective Ink. It’s a journey of the heart but also the mind as they try to figure out who is sabotaging them and what they’ll do to stop the individual.

Adding the layer of super powers in these books just makes it more fun because I can do the fantastical, although it also has to be logical and have consequences. But if you could pick a super power, without consequences, what would it be? What would you use it for? Lay it on me, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

About Wicked Ink:

wickedinkGarrett Blackwell is not a superhero, and his tattoos aren’t just ink. They’re the weapons he uses to hunt those who hurt the innocent as he tries to atone for his dark past of violence and crime. And he pays a price every time he uses his gift to summon the darkness around him.

Dory Miller has lived beside Garrett for two months and is torn by her feelings toward her sexy, reclusive neighbor. He’s the hottest man she’s ever met, but as more women in her building become targets of a stalker, she doesn’t know who she can trust—especially after she finds Garrett bleeding from a knife wound. Despite her fears that Garrett might be the one responsible for the violence, she feels compelled to help heal his wounds.

Garrett reluctantly lets her, and is shocked to discover that she can heal not only his physical wounds, but also the darkness brought by his powers. But if letting her in means putting her in danger, Garrett may have to keep his distance to keep her safe.

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New Releases: July 2014

by Amy Loosemore, Harlequin Digital

Make your summer a supernatural one with these new paranormal and fantasy releases from Harlequin!

Shaman Rises by C.E. Murphy (Part of the Walker Papers series, Harlequin MIRA)

Joanne Walker has two choices:

Defeat the enemy…or lose her soul trying

For over a year, Joanne has been fighting the Master—the world’s most abiding evil entity. She’s sacrificed family, friendships, even watched potential futures fade away…and now the Master is bringing the final battle to Joanne’s beloved Seattle.

Lives will be lost as the repercussions of all Joanne’s final transformation into her full Shamanic abilities come to her doorstep. Before the end, she’ll mourn, rejoice—and surrender everything for the hope of the world’s survival. She’ll be a warrior and a healer. Because she is finally a Shaman Rising.

“The twists and turns will have readers shaking their heads while devouring the next page.” —USA TODAY on Raven Calls

The Vampire’s Wolf by Jenna Kernan (Harlequin Nocturne)

As a werewolf and a marine, he’s duty-bound to protect his enemy

Brianna Vittori is running from vampires. After receiving a mysterious warning, Bri has no choice but to seek refuge with an enemy she never thought she’d run to: werewolves. They’re the only ones who can save her…if they don’t kill her first.

As a werewolf, marine captain Travis MacConnelly should be immune to the deadly attraction of female vampires. But Bri ignites his most primal desires. When Mac realizes that his beautiful prisoner doesn’t even know what she is, it’s up to him to provide her with answers as well as protection. As the bond between them grows, so does the danger they’re in….

The Resurrectionist by Sierra Woods (Harlequin Nocturne)

Even the toughest resurrectionist needs protection sometimes…

And make no mistake: Dani is tough…so tough even the grave couldn’t keep her down. Ever since mysterious beings brought her back from her tragic murder, she’s been using her newfound powers to restore justice to the world of humans. It’s hard, dangerous work, and sometimes a little backup doesn’t hurt—especially when it comes from a hunky cop like Sam Lopez.

There’s only one catch: Dani’s past has taught her that she can’t trust another man. Besides, Sam has demons of his own to battle. They’ll just have to ignore the heat that’s building between them. Until a great evil begins to rise, and then Dani and Sam need to get closer than they’ve ever been.

Awaken to Pleasure by Lauren Hawkeye (Harlequin Nocturne Cravings)

He’ll grant her one wish…. What if she wishes for him?

When Moira Connor stumbles across a jewel-encrusted silver trinket in the desert, she plans to trade it for food. Then the brush of her fingers unleashes a surprise….

Freed from the lamp, Boone is bound to the woman who called him with her touch. She has one day to make a wish before he disappears forever. But Moira lives in the ruins of a world destroyed by witches. She hates magic—even when it comes in the shape of a dazzlingly gorgeous djinn. Will the exquisite pleasure of Boone’s caresses be enough to earn Moira’s trust? And will Moira be able to save Boone from the malevolent creature who would possess him?

Valkyrie’s Conquest by Sharon Ashwood (Harlequin Nocturne Cravings)

Can a fire-breathing shape-shifter melt a Norse battle maiden’s heart?

As a Valkyrie, Tyra was created for one purpose: to reap souls for Odin’s army. After centuries of walking among mortal warriors, she finally discovers what it is to want a man during a chance encounter with a dragon in human form.

Bron has no part in the war between the demons and the gods’ chosen people—nor does he want one. Finally free from the oppressive rule of the dragon queen, he desires nothing more than his independence. But, when Tyra is betrayed, he finds he has no choice but to take a side in the struggle between good and evil.

Once he joins the battle, Bron is subject to the Fates, whom Tyra serves. Will she defy the will of the gods to spare the dragon she loves?
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